Enlarge / SpaceX revealed its Dragon V2 spacecraft in May, 2014.
It’s still a ways from the launch pad. (credit: SpaceX)
This week Boeing made a public splash by debuting a new, blue spacesuit for astronauts to wear aboard its Starliner spacecraft. What the company did not dwell on as it rolled out “Boeing Blue,” however, was when the lighter, more modern-looking flight suits might be put into action with crewed flights into orbit.
That is because much work remains to integrate all of Starliner’s various systems, including qualifying them for flight, ensuring their compatibility, and writing and testing software that will make for smooth flying.
And Boeing is not alone; its “commercial crew” competitor SpaceX also faces similar technical hurdles with the Dragon V2 spacecraft and the Falcon 9 rocket that will launch it into space.
Boeing has set a “no earlier than” date for its first crewed test flight of August 2018, and SpaceX has targeted May 2018.
But those dates seem optimistic.
Ars spoke to a handful of sources familiar with the commercial crew program this week, and all expressed pessimism about the public timelines the companies have for reaching the launch pad.
According to this unofficial analysis, even a single crewed test flight in 2018 by either company now appears unlikely, as teams from both Boeing and SpaceX continue to work through significant technical issues.
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